When in jail, wife told kids I was shooting: Sanjay Dutt

Not many can claim to have lived a life like that of Sanjay Dutt. From losing his mother and then his first wife to cancer, to breaking free from the ruthless claws of drug addiction, to surviving jail, this Bollywood superstar and India’s ‘Khalnayak’ has touched the highest highs and the lowest lows to emerge stronger.

In an interview with Zee News, the 58-year-old actor recalls what his family had been through when he was locked away in Pune’s Yerawada Central Jail.

“Children these days are so smart. My kids would ask Maanayata (his wife) to call me. She would lie that I’m away shooting in the mountains where there is no network. Luckily the jail authorities allowed me one call every fortnight, and I would make that call to them,” said Dutt.

Asked if they know the truth now, he says his children are aware, “but I’m waiting for them to grow up so that I can tell them my story in detail.”

A superstar of the ’90s and the unforgettable face of the ‘Munna Bhai’ movies, Dutt is back on the big screen for another run. His latest, ‘Bhoomi’, is slated for release next week. Dutt who shares screen space with Aditi Rao Hydari in the movie said she is not his love interest, but his daughter.

“I want to work in the kind of films they make in Hollywood and not romance girls much younger than me. I want to do entertainment films that send a strong social message,” said Dutt, who also dreams of sitting in the director’s chair some day.

Reacting to the nepotism debate, Dutt who is the son of celebrated film stars — the late Sunil and Nargis Dutt — admitted that his family lineage helped his entry to Bollywood. “But, after the first film, it all depends on how you work and how many hits you give. It doesn’t matter whether you are (Sunil) Dutt’s son or (Amitabh) Bachchan’s,” he said.

Dutt also added that though he came from such a celebrated family, his parents’ insistence on keeping his formative years “normal” ensured he was able to survive whatever life threw at him.

“I was sent to a boarding school for 11 years and I had a second class train pass to travel in Bombay. These things have helped me survive everything,” he said.

Asked whether he had any plans to enter politics, Dutt, whose sister Priya is a former Congress MP, replied with a firm ‘no’. However, he added he had immense love for his country and that all Indians — whether in India or abroad — too should love their country. “When I was released from jail, the first thing I did was to touch the soil and salute the Tricolour. Every citizen should do that.”

Finally, as if to prove that life does come a full circle, Dutt — a self-confessed former drug addict — revealed his plans to launch a Drug Free India campaign.

We hope that the campaign, to be jointly launched by Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, will symbolise everything one needs to know about Dutt.